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Hi Joe,
Any thoughts on Hypoxic training? Basically, using generator produced thin air to do intervals as opposed to living at altitude?
Also, on the flip side, any thoughts on Oxygen supplementation?
thanks Joe.
Btw, Sunshine HC kicks butt even when you live up here. :)

Joe Friel

Hi Neeraj--It was good to meet you last week before the race. I hope yours went better than mine. I don't use hypoxia at all as it seems like a sure way to detrain someone. Hyperoxia, however, can be quite effective, especially if you live at a high altitude such as Boulder. Supplemental O2 allows you to train here as if you were at sea level meaning the muscles can be worked maximally. I've used it with one of my athletes who lived at high altitude quite successfully. The major downside is that it can be costly ($).


Thanks Joe. Almost all the races that I had signed up for earlier this year, were above 8000 ft so I figured Hypoxic training would help with that. But is there something counter-intuitive happening here? Why would hypoxic training cause detraining.


Yes it's really true that the Oxygen delivery to the muscles is reduced at altitude. Great set of answers for important questions. Thanks for sharing.

Joe Friel

Neeraj--Preparing for a race at altitude is not about getting used to having less O2 to breathe. It's about producing more red blood cells to more expeditiously move what little O2 there is available to the muscles. Hypoxia for a couple of hours a day - perhaps even 8 or so a day - is inadequate to produce more RBC. As mentioned in the post, it takes something like 17+ hours a day of exposure to high altitude for the body to produce more natural EPO and therefore increase RBC count.


Thanks Joe. As usual, very informative.

J Bernardini

I don't think I have the coin for it, but would a legal EPO producing cocktail help then? http://www.active.com/swimming/Articles/U_S__swimmers_take_diet_supplements_that_give_EPO-like_benefits.htm

This Hammer nutrition article seems thorough and suggests a strategy for raising EPO levels to 48%. Think it could work? Would 48% make a difference?

J Bernardini

whoops, forgot the link to the hammer nutrition article: http://www.hammernutrition.com/knowledge/diet-for-increasing-your-natural-epo.280.html


Hi Joe.

Very interesting article. Your book, website and software are essential for my training. I live at 8,000ft and plan to do events from 7-14,000ft. Based on the article, it seems it would be best to go into denver at 5000ft to train rather than training at 8,000ft where I live (live high, train low). Is this a correct conclusion?
Thank you!

Joe Friel

Patrick--Yes, that's correct.

Dave Barber

I remember seeing a film on Chris Boardman, who'd built a contraption in one of his bedrooms that thinned the atmosphere to simulate altitude training.


Inversely, if I live/train at 5800 ft, would my aerobic capacity be higher at sea level? Would I have an advantage racing against sea level cyclists at sea level?

Joe Friel

Jay- Your aerobic capacity would be higher at sea level than it was at 5800 ft. For the first few weeks after coming down you would probably have more red blood cells also. That should boost your AC beyond what it would be if you lived at SL. But your muscles would be less well-trained than those who live at sea level, at least initially.


"At altitude there is a loss of muscular fitness since the workouts can’t be as intense as at sea level." I never hear coaches, experts, or athletes saying sea level training having value over altitude training. Its usually about how great altitude training is compared to sea level training. Thanks Joe. Nice to see a benefit of living at sea level and training versus altitude training.


Joe, I was wondering if you had ever heard of this before and what you think.


Joe Friel

Patrick--No, never heard of it. I'd be highly skeptical. I'd want to see research studies done by independent and qualified researchers.


I lived at 9,000 feet for years in Colorado, it always killed me to do anything near sea level for a week or so after coming down from altitude. Constant fatigue, etc? Why is this? People always suggest - Oh you are from Colorado, you should be great! It's like reverse altitude sickness for me.

Joe Friel

Jeff--I don't know. It could be that because you live at altitude your muscular system is not stressed very much. Then when you go to sea level muscle power/force becomes your limiter. Just a guess.



I live at sea level, and go to Mammoth Lakes every summer (7000-10000 ft). I have noticed that the first days I am very out of breath to climb up and down the condo steps, but by the end of the week, I have no problem.

Also, I have done a bike ride where I needed to stop and regroup multiple times along a long steep climb early in the week. Later in the week on the same ride, I completed it with much more ease.
first ride: http://tpks.ws/2zfO (ended abruptly but not from my choice)
second ride: http://tpks.ws/SQDk

Is it just my imagination that I feel far more acclimated after about 4 days? It would seem that I would want to have a race on day 4+. How could such a short period of time make a difference?

Joe Friel

Kweixel--yes, that's certainly possible. There's a bit of adaptation to altitude happening daily while there. And some peo
Ke are also fast responders. Could be you. Good luck!

Shaun Callaghan

are you able to suggest a strategy of adaption for us sea level folks taking on Ironman Lake Tahoe next year?

Joe Friel

Shaun--Either get there weeks or at least several days in advance. If that's not possible then arrive in the best aerobic condition possible. In either case, expect your performance/power/pace at a higher altitude to be less than at sea level. The guide is 2% for every 1000 ft above current level IF NOT ADAPTED. Once adapted the difference is roughly half that. It takes about 4 weeks to fully adapt. Search my blog for "altitude" to find details.


Thanks for the article Joe but for a guy of your caliber you sure made many mistakes in this one.

All of your altitudes are calculated wrong, you are waaay off :))

You mention "...5500 feet (~2000 meters)..." but it's only 1676m.
Another one "...8300 feet (~3050 meters)..." is 2529m.

Also, the life-cycle for a red blood cell is about 100 days and not "...four weeks (the life cycle of a red blood cell)..."!!!

Hope you got your most of your training advice correct because you seem to be missing lots of details ;)

Joe Friel

Stano--You're right. Thanks for the catch.

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